Fire buckets from St. Jørgen’s Hospital

Fire bucket from St. Jørgen’s Hospital. Photo: Bergen City Museum.

Leather fire buckets were common in the 18th century. A number of them have been preserved from St. Jørgen’s, painted with the name of the hospital and often a number or year. Some are tall, narrow and straight, while others a little more plump and crooked. Most have a sturdy rope as a handle, others a thick leather strap. In the mid-18th century, the hospital had as many as 24 fire buckets. 

The hospital was twice destroyed by fire, first in 1640 and again in 1702. Fire buckets, water pumps and many generations of fire extinguishing equipment tell of the centuries of fear of it happening again.

In 1764, Hilbrandt Meyer describes a separate pumphouse at the hospital, built ten years earlier, which had a water pump, ladders and other equipment. He describes 18th-century firefighting equipment thus: ‘A pump house built in 1754 was equipped, consisting of 1 pump, 24 leather buckets, 4 axes, 2 water tubs, 3 fire hooks and 3 fire ladders’.

Photos: Bergen City Museum.

After the many city fires, there was a fear that it might happen again.
‘Extract from the fire ordinance for the city of Bergen, marked Copenhagen, 16th of May 1707, regarding the duty of all citizens in the event of a fire emergency’.
University of Bergen Library.

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